When it comes to self care for mothers, we’re not always the greatest at putting ourselves high on our priority lists. Add in babies or really young children, and making time for yourself can seem almost a foreign concept. But in order to Mother well, we have to fill the Mother Well. This is the name that I give that place within that allows us to keep giving, to keep mothering.
Often, this place has nothing to do with parenting, in the sense of how we mother others and our children.
Rather, it is the space within where we mother ourselves and where we feel connected to the Great Mother.
This place is sacred, private, timeless and so uniquely our own.
SELF CARE FOR MOTHERS
Every woman is different in how she wants to be nourished, how she wants to be cared for, how she wants to be mothered. You could call it self care, but that term has been used so much, most of us don’t truly understand what it means.
But we do know how it feels to be mothered. And whether we had a good example, or less than adequate example, during our own childhood… I think we all have an idea of how we long to be mothered.
When we take time to fill the Mother Well, we all choose a little something different and relevant to our own authentic nature.
For me, this form of self care means time alone. Introverted by nature, I often crave moments to myself to sit in stillness because this is how I feel connected to something greater than the tasks at hand; something divine, something infinite, something that fuels my ability to keep on giving.
FILLING YOUR OWN WELL
Thus, I fill my own Mother Well with time alone, in nature or at home. I’ll journal or sing or cook or walk in the woods or meditate. I’ll allow more time to listen to the subtle cues, to the birds singing in the trees, or to that inner voice that so often gets muffled by the noise of everyday life. This is how I re-charge. This is how I re-new. This is how I fill the well.
Girlfriends, fellow moms, and my female patients often explain they have the exact opposite experience. Usually these individuals are more extroverted in nature; they re-fuel by going out, by relating, by verbally processing and by externalizing.
Without their social time, they start to feel a buildup of emotion within, like a tidal wave of bottled feelings that have no avenue of expression. They are relieved when that wave of thoughts, feelings and experiences gets an outlet. This is how they re-establish balance.
PUT ME-TIME ON THE SCHEDULE
Me-Time is on every list about self care for mothers. It’s there because it’s necessary.
This can be an hour while the baby is asleep or if the kids are old enough, set up some boundaries around your time. I typically give my kids a task and have them practice silence during this time for my peace of mind. This is not a chance to get caught up on work or complete a ‘to-do’ list, but more an opportunity for a much-needed yoga DVD or even a hot soak in an epsom salt bath with essential oils.
ASK FOR HELP
There are times when stress levels reach their peak. Hopefully before this happens you enlist the help of your family, friends or husband to pitch in. You probably know the importance of finding your tribe. Again, spend this time doing things that nourish your whole being, like going out into nature to get some fresh air and sunlight, walking on the beach, gardening, painting, or reading an inspirational book.
In the same ways that kids respond to loving attention, adults reap emotional benefits from receiving care – even when we are our own caregivers. Pay attention to how you’re feeling throughout the day and listen to the signals your body is giving you.
FOLLOW YOUR INTUITION
What I would suggest to women who are learning how to fill their own Mother Well is to first identify whether they experience themselves as more of an introvert or an extrovert. This is not to suggest we are dichotomous and only allowed one way of being, but to acknowledge that each of us tends more towards one or the other the majority of the time.
One of the best ways to identify your tendency is to ask yourself which leaves you feeling more depleted: time alone or time out socializing with others? When you walk away from either experience, you will know you have filled your own well based upon the feelings you experience after the intentional time you spent.
There are certainly times when extroverted types need more time alone to center, and when introverted types need to get out and engage with others. Always allow yourself flexibility to swing both ways on the pendulum.
The greater point is to know that only you can identify your needs at any given moment, and to understand how important self care is to tend to those needs in order to keep mothering well.
More of you. More of your authenticity. More of your light. More of your joy. More of your tireless ability to give of yourself. More of your unique stamp of mothering.
When you are able to give to yourself, you fill the Mother Well. As a result, You Mother Well. It’s simple, really, but not always easy…
Yet, I can think of no single more important thing, as a mother, that I could teach to my own children. The gift of time to honor one’s own individual needs fuels us to do the work we love. And to show up more fully for that work.
So take time to fill the well. Then share more of you.
The world is waiting…
- How Self Care Leads to Better Mothering - September 21, 2020
- The Importance of Family Meal Time: Sharing food as an act of love - May 17, 2018
For years the only way way to take a break was to leave the house. I hated it as I can’t think straight, or relax surrounded by strangers and in busy places. I’ve tested dead center on the line between into/extrovert though I find as I age, I’m leaning more towards introvert.
We’ve recently started a practice that I am to have a few hours alone a week wherein my husband takes the darling kiddos AWAY. This lets me have time to write in peace, take a walk, sit out back and paint, or even just take a nap. It’s bliss. It’s taken years to get this through and the kids are older, so it’s easier. I love my family dearly, and we all appreciate one another more with some breathing space.
I also have a new friend I go to coffee with maybe once a month. We meet up at seven am and take an hour or so. She’s a homeschooling mother of seven, but is the calmest person I know. We visit about whatever and sip our warm drinks and then head back into the trenches of daily life with all its requirements. It’s a bit noisy in the coffeeshop, but for that brief time no one needs us so the noise can fade into the background.
Melanie Everett says
It sounds like you have found the perfect way to get your needs met, which is what it’s all about!! I find, too, that surrounding even the littlest gifts of time and space (like bathroom breaks alone!!) in the spirit of gratitude can provide even the smallest boost of energy to just keep going. This mothering stuff is no joke! More power to you for learning to listen to your Self. Enjoy those few hours a week – what a dream!! 🙂
Usually when we read about self care (sometimes called “me time”) it’s the same old-manicures and weekends away, and spa treatments, girls nights, etc. Not only are these things not possible for many moms, they are more stressful when we feel we must leave a nursing baby or find sitters, something I was never comfortable doing. It can be as simple as going for a walk with a friend with the baby in a sling, or writing in a journal, or having a friend to lunch, or reading a good book. I am a mother of six, and there are also times, with a colicky baby, or solo parenting when a spouse is busy at work, that we just have to sacrifice and know that the time will come when a window opens and we will have more time to take care of ourselves-I remember feeling so frustrated when people would say, “Make sure you take time to yourself!” when I could barely get to the bathroom. It just felt like one more thing I was failing at.
Thank you for this beautiful gentle article-it rings very true to me.
Melanie Everett says
I hear you, completely! It can only feel like added pressure when we think we have to “go out” or “be away” in order to re-fuel. Sometimes just the act of sitting down – yes, literally sitting down! – is the single most effective way I can demonstrate (for myself AND my kids) that I also need time just to BE. I like to think they are learning from us, as we mother, about how to simply BE as well. Here’s to you having time for yourself 😉 Many blessings, Melanie